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Those affected were quickly surrounded by fire and police departments, representatives of Timber Lake management and Red Cross workers, as well as volunteers and staff from Wheaton Bible Church and Iglesia del Pueblo and the Puente del Pueblo team.
Within weeks, all affected families were resettled in other apartments, both within Timber Lake and elsewhere, and these former residents have been rebuilding their lives in their new settings.
Linda Susan, whose story was highlighted in the spring 2013 issue of LIFE, reports, “Two years after the fire, most things have returned to normal—thanks to the help that the church family provided to us. The way they helped families they didn’t know shows what God can do in such a time.”
Christina, who also lost her home, said, “The fire was a test for our lives. We saw how the Lord always cares for us. After the fire, He blessed us with the help you provided. Everything we lost was restored.”
In the nearly two years since the fire, Timber Lake managers Glen and Cornelia Mueller have reflected on two of their favorite verses: “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to
his purpose” (Romans 8:28, KJV) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
“Both verses proved to be true during this event. Many hands and hearts were involved with holding the hands of the ones in need. God’s strength became contagious. The love of God’s people was a testimony that touched not only the hearts of the residents affected by the fire but also the surrounding community and the West Chicago officials who were involved.
“Your goal of ‘impacting the community’ is being reached daily. You are helping to make ‘all things work together for good’ in the lives of the residents of Timber Lake Apartments and the larger community.”
Puente Director Matthew McNiel has also had a chance to reflect. “Looking back, I believe the reason Puente was able to have a dramatic impact in this time of crisis was due to the commitment and presence we had built in the community over the years before the fire. It positioned us to shoot up a trustworthy ‘SOS flare,’ inviting the church to help and enabling us to channel resources responsibly through preexisting, grounded relationships with the apartment management, the Red Cross, police and fire, and the residents themselves.”